“Foods to Enhance Brain Power”Apr 21, 2019
Over five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or some other form of dementia and one in three seniors dies with (not necessarily from) Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Although you cannot buy a bottle of “brain food,’ you can choose foods known to improve cognition and improve brain function. Many false claims have been rampant with articles pushing the notion that this can be achieved with coffee, cocoa, water, antioxidants, etc. But, please do not accept a flamboyant, so-called medical headline. Still, some experts believe food is a very effective and underutilized intervention in mental health. Get patients off of processed foods, off of white carbohydrates, and off of certain vegetable oils. Diet seems to be as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in important nutrients—including vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene—that keep the brain healthy and are linked to slower cognitive decline. Fatty fish—like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna—are an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a key to brain maintenance.
“Unhealthy Diets Linked to 20% of Deaths Worldwide”Apr 14, 2019
In 2017, eleven million deaths worldwide in 2017 were linked to people eating poor diets high in sugar, salt, and processed meat that contributed to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Of the 11 million in 2017, almost 10 million were from cardiovascular diseases, around 913,000 from cancer, and almost 339,000 from type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that among 195 countries studied, the proportion of diet-related deaths was highest in Uzbekistan and lowest in Israel. The United States ranked 43rd, while Britain was 23rd, China 140th and India 118th. Consumption of healthier foods such as nuts and seeds, milk, and whole grains was on average too low, and people consumed too many sugary drinks and too much processed meat and salt. Experts say this affirms what many have thought for several years. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said, “Poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world.
“Exercise to Increase Lifespan and Brain Function”Apr 07, 2019
Repeatedly, we find that exercise has a wide array of health benefits. Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of most major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, strokes, obesity and diabetes. Among the many health benefits that aerobics brings, some notable ones are weight loss, boosting cardiovascular health, reducing anxiety, and regulating moods. Aerobic exercise is a type of workout that increases the heartbeat and stimulates it to pump more oxygen through the body. Please refer to my book on amazon.com entitled, Exercise & Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS): Likely the Only Health Miracle Out There. It gives extensive supportive evidence to the health benefits of exercise, with increased oxygen consumption. A 2019 study found that people with elite-performance cardiorespiratory fitness had an 80% lower mortality risk compared with people with low cardiorespiratory fitness. Any incremental increase in cardiorespiratory function resulted in improvement to mortality. The survival benefit was most notable in patients older than age 70. In this age group, elite performers had a nearly 30% reduced risk of mortality compared with high performers. Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness. Now, researchers are finding that brain changes that occur after a single workout are predictive of what happens with sustained physical training over time.
“Dementia Is On The Rise”Mar 31, 2019
Approximately 6 million Americans have dementia and the prevalence is increasing. Tragically, nearly a half-million new Alzheimer’s cases will be diagnosed annually. An estimated 1 million people in the US have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and about 110 million older adults who are aging normally have some kind of cognitive complaint. Memory continues to decline as individuals age, with the downward slope depending on genetic makeup and lifestyle factors. There are no disease-modifying treatments for age-related memory loss. Some studies suggest that lifestyle factors are even more important than genetic factors, and one of those major areas is nutrition. Up to half of all Alzheimer’s Disease cases worldwide are potentially attributable to seven major risk factors: depression/stress, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking, and low education/cognitive inactivity. We also know that dementia can start early. A study published in the British Medical Journal, conducted by an Inserm research team, shows that our memory and capacity for reasoning and understanding start to decline at the age of 45. The study estimated 43.8 million cases of dementia worldwide in 2016, which represented an increase of 117% from the number of cases in 1990 (20.2 million). Dementia was the fifth-leading cause of mortality worldwide in 2016. The number of women who died of dementia was nearly double that of men. There are three main drugs (Aricept, or donepezil; Exelon, or rivastigmine; and Reminyl, Razadyne or galantamine) which are currently approved for use in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
“Egg Medical Recommendations Get Scrambled Again”Mar 24, 2019
Here we go again. Over the past decade, we have been assured that eggs are a great source of nutrition and are safe to eat. That followed decades of being scared to death to even touch an egg, let alone eat one. A new observational study is claiming that consuming eggs increases the risk of heart disease. The report, combining data from six earlier studies, found a 6% increased risk of cardiovascular disease when the average number of eggs consumed per day went up by half an egg. Norrina Allen, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said, “The take-home message is that individuals who consume higher levels of dietary cholesterol are at increased risk for the development of heart disease and mortality later in life. And in the US diet, eggs are one of the top sources of cholesterol.” Allen said, “I’m not advocating people take them completely out of their diets,” she said. “I’m just suggesting that people eat them in moderation.” It can be hard to translate the association between eggs and heart disease into advice, Allen allowed. That’s because we don’t all deal with cholesterol in the same way, she said. “The amount of cholesterol you consume isn’t linked in a straightforward way with the amount found in your blood,” Allen explained. “That depends on a lot of factors including your genes and how you metabolize cholesterol.”
“Pancreatic Cancer Update”Mar 17, 2019
Jeopardy host, Alex Trebek, announced his grim news saying, “Just like 50,000 other people in the US each year, I was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Normally the prognosis is not very encouraging,” he continued, “But I am going to fight this. I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.” The cancer almost always strikes after age 45, with 71 the average age at diagnosis. Trebek is 78. Stage IV means the cancer has spread to other organs, and surgery is almost always not possible. Pancreatic cancer often spreads to the liver. While pancreatic cancer survival rates have been improving from decade to decade, the disease is still basically incurable. According to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20%, and the five-year rate is 7%. These low survival rates are attributable to the fact that fewer than 20% of patients’ tumors are confined to the pancreas at the time of diagnosis; in most cases, the malignancy has already progressed to the point where surgical removal is impossible. The overall five-year survival rate is about 10%, although this can rise as high as 20% to 35% if the tumor is removed completely and when cancer has not spread to lymph nodes. The median survival rate of people with stage IV pancreatic cancer is about 18 months, with half surviving longer and half dying sooner.
“Three Stinky Healthy Foods”Mar 10, 2019
Famously odiferous or “stinky” foods can add flavor to your meal. And, they do a lot more for you than leaving you with bad breath. Vegetables in the allium family—onions, garlic, leeks—have a big stinkin’ number of healthful benefits, not the least of which is fighting cancer. In a study, adults who ate high amounts of garlic, leeks, and onions (known as allium vegetables) had a 79% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than adults who consumed low amounts. Here’s a big stinking plateful of other benefits that these foods offer. Besides adding zesty flavor to soups and salads, and as a tasty topping to burgers, onions are a great source of quercetin, which inhibits low-density lipoprotein oxidation, a process involved in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Maybe an onion a day will keep the doctor away. Other foods, such as apples and tea, also contain quercetin; however, quercetin from onions is absorbed at twice the rate as that from tea and more than three times that from apples. Onions also help to break up platelet aggregation, which is associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. The more pungent the onion, the greater the antiplatelet activity it has. According to the National Onion Association, investigators have shown that increased onion consumption is also associated with lower risk for stomach, bladder, and colorectal cancers. Most of the beneficial compounds in onions don’t form until you cut the onion.
“Dietary Supplement Sales Soar With No Scientific Proof”Mar 03, 2019
There is a mountain of failed studies on the benefits of dietary supplements, but people continue to buy them by the bucket loads and gobble them down. Americans spend about $40 billion annually, as global sales reach $133 billion. But why? In 1996, the Physicians’ Health Study randomly gave men beta-carotene or placebo for 12 years and showed no difference in cardiovascular disease (CVD), or for that matter in malignant neoplasms or overall mortality. In fact, other evidence showed that beta-carotene might actually increase the risk for lung cancer in smokers. The Women’s Health Study of almost 40,000 women older than 45 years compared beta-carotene with placebo and also found no benefit in terms of stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular death. The evidence for vitamin C and vitamin E has been equally disappointing, despite great hope that as antioxidants, they would have some benefit. The second Physicians’ Health Study compared vitamin E, vitamin C, or both against placebo in over 14,500 men and found no reduction in stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular mortality. The Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study tested beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E in 8,171 women over 9 years of follow-up and also found no benefit. The ability of folic acid to lower homocysteine levels initially held promise, but subsequent reviews showed it was not associated with a reduction in CVD.
“Ten Dreaded Diseases Reappear”Feb 24, 2019
We have witnessed a reappearance of many dreaded diseases. Once effective treatment or prevention exists for a disease, the hope is that the disease will fade from public health. But illnesses don’t always go away and can lurk in the shadows only to later re-emerge. Some of these diseases reappear because people fail to get vaccinated while others evolve to become more virulent and resistant to current treatments. Let’s look at 10 diseases that have been making a comeback in recent years. 1) Syphilis. Syphilis used to be a lot less prevalent, but this sexually-transmitted infection (caused by Treponema pallidum) has been on the rise in the 21st century. Fortunately, syphilis is susceptible to treatment with penicillin. 2) Measles. With more parents foregoing vaccination for their children, measles has again reared its ugly head. Just in 2019 so far, 79 cases have already been reported—compared with 63 cases in the entire year of 2010, according to the CDC. 3) Plague. Plague—or the “Black Death” as it was referred to in the Middle Ages—is making a comeback in the developing world and in parts of the United States, including Idaho, California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
“Breakfast Myths”Feb 17, 2019
For more than 100 years, health advocates have called breakfast “the most important meal of the day.” Many have also recommended that breakfast be the largest meal of the day, citing the old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince, and eat dinner like a pauper. Mom may have been right in telling you that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but there appear to be myths about calorie consumption and weight loss surrounding the subject. Over the past 50 years we have been bombarded with messages extolling the health benefits of various processed cereals and porridge oats. Around a third of people in developed countries regularly skip breakfast. We were told that breakfast helps our metabolism and that skipping it will make us much hungrier, so we’ll overeat and put on weight. These are not just old wives’ tales because they have been studied scientifically. The disadvantages of skipping breakfast have now been debunked by several randomized trials. No evidence supports the claim that skipping breakfast makes you gain weight or adversely reduces your resting metabolic rate. Furthermore, reasonable evidence now suggests that skipping breakfast can actually be a useful strategy to reduce weight.